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A TRIBUTE TO SHAIKH AYAZ Edit Text

*SHAIKH AYAZ: POET LAUREATE OF THE LESSER-KNOWN
SINDHI PEOPLE*
By Aftab Kazi
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(Dedicated to Munis Ayaz (Youngest son of the late great poet) a professor of international relations at Shah Abdul Latif University, Khairpur, Sindh, Pakistan. The article was originally written in December 1998 around the first death anniversary of the late great poet. It has been partly updated for the sixth anniversary. The article addresses various cognitive development processes Ayaz underwent, leading to the political conceptualization of problems Sindhi society experienced in the sixties. I am grateful to Dr. Hoong Joo Kim of Soel, South Korea, a friend and colleague at the University of Leipzig for his assistance in various stages of technical reproduction of this article from print to computerization. Scanning and updating processes may require some corrections)


THE absence of an appropriate reference material never justifies writing of the biographic notes about towering literary figures such as Shaikh Mubarak Ali "Ayaz", celebrated Sindhi mass poet and author of approximately seventy volumes of poetic literary work. However, the University of Leipzig, seat of great German artists and literaturers such as Bach, Goethe and Schiller, popularly great as Ayaz is stimulating enough to recollect some of his lifetime experiences. The forgiveness for inadvertent memory reverberation is however solicited.

Ayaz, the twentieth century poet-laureate of Pakistan, represented the conscience of an historically ancient but relatively lesser-known people of the Indus Valley or Sindhu as the indigenous people call it. In the Indus lands, history is often shaped by accidents rather than designs, and some relatively favorable accidents are revered as miracles. A buffer between the Indian subcontinent and Central Asia, historically Sindh has been subjected to constant invasions and mass migrations, resulting in ethnocultural stress, as these indigenous hospitable societies have had to accommodate with new cultural norms everytime a new invasion or migration transpired. Despite the exotic richness of Sindhi culture, language and literature, perpetual cultural transitions have obstructed the normal evolutionary processes of local languages and literature, limiting the opportunities for indigenous poet-literaturers achieving the regional and or international fame. With the exception of Shah Abdul Latif Bhitai in the 18th century A.D., the prominance of another charismatic poet-laureate Shaikh "Ayaz" after approximately 200 years, according to local Indus psyche might signify as a miracle in Sindhi society. Contemplation of the sociopolitical currents Sindhi society underwent during the last century or so suffices to recollect the major experiences of the poet's 73 years lifetime at least in the following three phases and conclusion:

(1) The Flourishing Phase,
(2) The Liberal Romantic Phase,
(3) The Realist Phase, and
(4) Conclusion.

(1) THE FLOURISHING PHASE: Sociopolitical currents of the 1930s colonial rule and ramifications of the buffer zone status of the Indus Basin witnessed the rise of separate Hindu-Muslim identities undermining the prevailing sociocultural traits, witnessing dwindling patriotism replaced with narrowly defined nationalism and an eventual breakdown of the prevalent Bhakti-Sufi oriented sociocultural order as well as the ensuing large scale bloody mass migrations on religious grounds throughout the Indian subcontinent, especially in Sindh where religious tolerance still largely prevailed. Those factors seem to have influenced the social psychology of Shaikh Ayaz and the post-independence colonial legacies conditioned his perceptions. Although Ayaz welcomed independence, intellectually, he could never accommodate himself with the fragmentary impact mass migrations had over the historically woven religiously tolerant social fabric of Sindhi society. Most of his literary work laments this fragmentation, which he desired to reconstruct.

Perhaps, I may never be able to comprehend the imagery contours Ayaz idealistically expressed in one of his stories written in early 1950s, entitled "Je, Tandu Baraabar Toriaan" ("Those, who [dear ones] are weighed [equal] with string [musical cord]"), which narrated the personal pain of Ayaz precipitated by the undesirable migration of his childhood Hindu friend and his family to Post-independence India. Some 40 years later, at the death of the same friend in India, lamentation of Ayaz came out extraordinarily. His imagery, conceptualization and thought pattern beautifully expressed not only the poet's agony but it simultaneoulsy reflected the inherent collective historical agonies of the entire Sindhu Valley, modern day realpolitik and symptoms of cultural stress, which have traditionally desolated Sindh regions but enriched the Central Asian and Indian societies. Representing Sindhu and his childhood friend, Ayaz mourned: "Tooh jee rakha kkhanni wayoon Ganga joon lahroon, Sindhu-a ubbahryoon bbaanhoon phahilayoon ghannyoon." (TRANSLATION: "Your ashes were taken away by the waves of Ganges; Sindhu spread arms long enough [to have your ashes], in destitute [without avail]"). The natural quality of Ayaz to capsulate multidisciplinary aspects of history and culture is eloquent and abundantly demonstrated in the several volumes of his lifetime literary work.

Ayaz will be remembered by all Pakistanis, particularly Sindhis, as a role model and as a poet-saint by the native tradition. He represented the feelings of relative deprivation and sorrows of Sindhis, as well as a few but rare pleasures through his bold and courageous poetry, mostly composed during the tortuous epochs in the poet's lifetime passed mostly under the military rule.

Recollecting the personal pain, sufferings, isolation and sorrows that Ayaz endured and matured with, this essay largely focuses the learning processes that helped Ayaz evaluate and re-evaluate his utopias about Sindhi/Pakistani society and the transient nature of sociopolitical and cultural atmosphere, as well as the juxtaposition of his idealism with normative realism. With those corollaries Ayaz meditated and characterized Sindhi national sentiment, national-self perceptions, specifically the political attitude and behavior of Sindhi people and inherent prescriptive utility in the then relatively hostile sociopolitical environment. The objective treatment of the subjects addressed in his work clearly demonstrates the cognitive cultural trend alterations reflecting the processes of the poet's changing worldview; hence the changing Sindhi society itself. Despite the critical life he endured, Ayaz never stopped romancing Sindh but always hoped that his utopias about the sociocultural revitalization of Sindhi society may materialize someday.

Briefly, the psychological frustration of this early phase helped Ayaz to widen his appreciation for crosscultural studies and perspectives and he applied that knowledge to modernize the traditional literary sociopolitical and cultural practices in Sindhi society. Sindhi literature owes a great deal to Ayaz for introducing many modern styles of poetic-literary expressions. Although each successive decade of his poetry offered new insights, in this writer's opinion, his work of the post-vice chancellorship time-period (Analyzed in the realist phase) provides the zenith of poet's prospective perceptions revealing his serious concern over the gradually deteriorating and worrisome nature of intellectual developments in Sindhi society.

(2) THE LIBERAL ROMANTIC PHASE: The poetry of Ayaz during the late 1950s and throughout the 1960s indeed successfully revitalized the Sindhi ethnonational and cultural conciousness at the individual and perhaps, possibly at the initial collective level (Collective behavior has regressed since). Having sorrowfully witnessed the unilateral shutting down of Sindhi language schools in Karachi in the 1950s, denial of Sindhis' right to purchase evacuee properties and share in the distribution of newly developing barrage lands, their exclusion in recruitment to higher and lower level positions in army and bureaucracy and in industrial opportunities, suppression of historic Sindhi identity under the then One Unit Scheme (Now dissolved; One Unit dissolved all provincially oriented regional cltural boundaries and was deeply resented by all of the then West Pakistani provinces) and history of Sindhu delta rewritten without reference to indigenous cultures and their contributions and sacrifices in the independence movement, to mention a few of the many deprivations Ayaz observed Sindhis suffer. In the name of newly orchestrated official mythologies of nation-building, the national sentiment and self-perceptions of the majority indigenous Pakistani cultures were consciously undermined and demoralized.

Sensitive Shaikh Ayaz, then a successfully practicing lawer from Sukkar could not condone these inequalities and conceptualized this national plight in his poetry. Although a small number (Surprisingly) of Pakistani/Sindhi political activists and writers opposed these injustices, Ayaz was the first non-political literary intellectual to protest against the violation of historic Sindhi right to national political legitimacy. While most politicians enunciated personal interests behind sensitive political issues, unselfish Ayaz voiced his conscience under the Wilsonian doctorine of national-self determinition in federal context articulating the then still convoluted Sindhi public opinion in literary forums. His legendary poem "Sahando ker mayaar o yaar, Sindhrri kkhe siru ker na ddeendo (TRANSLATION: "Who would like to be blamed my friend, for not sacrificing head [life] for Sindh") fully reflects the appreciation of the poet for Wilsonian liberalism and his personal romance with Sindh (Entire Indus Basin), as it does the national sentiment in Sindhi society (Southern Indus Basin) during the 1960s.

The song was popularized overnight. Not a single Sindhi middle class and college or university function would open or close without singing the Ayaz poetry. Ayaz had successfully touched the Sindhi psyche by addressing the political and social issues Sindhi society confronted those days in a culturally appropriate typical Sindhi way. Just like Maulana Jalaludin Rumi had the privilege to pristine the Persian language from foreign words in 13th century, Ayaz was destined to do the same for Sindhi language in 20th century. Although not a formally trained philologist, he was able to successfully scrub and restore hundreds of the original Sindhi words that were no longer used in Sindhi vocabulary.

Although Ayaz was not a political activist, he was labeled so officially. By the late 1950s, Pakistan underwent through a repressive yet relatively an orderly government (Compared to the current chaos and that of the 1950s) under President General Muhammad Ayub Khan, who's approximately 11 years of rule through Martial Law, partly under the comparably civilized form in the name of Basic Democracy (A social science perspective, which may appear contradictory to political activists). The majority of the Pakistani particularly Sindhi intellengentsia and political activists, afraid of the official wrath restrained their opinion about the then crucial national issues. With his dauntless endurance Ayaz poetically narrated and advocated the sorrows of Sindhis and bravely encountered the official irritation. A number of Sindhi publications were ceased and discontinued under the then Defense of Pakistan rules and not a single Sindhi or Urdu publisher would dare publish the poetry of Ayaz those days. Then as a high school student and a frequent reader of Ayaz, this writer could still remember many intellectuals/writers criticizing Ayaz, attacking the vital cultural elements that he internalized in the then staled Sindhi literature and poetry to bring about a newness, which actually helped Ayaz to revitalize Sindhi ethnocultural consciousness.

Despite his translation of Shah-jo-Risalo (Revered 18th century poetic Treatise of Shah Abdul Latif Bhitai in Sindhi language) in the national Urdu language, and personally presenting this powerful work of nationally integrating importance to President General Muhammad Ayub Khan, Ayaz was labeled anti-Pakistani, a disciple of Raja Dahir (Hindu ruler of Sindh in 6th and early 7th centuries -Ayaz never claimed any disciplinary attachment, only addressed historical epochs), a non-Muslim, an Indian agent, and what not else by the then predominant officially oriented Sindhi, Urdu and English press alike and by other influential Sindhi and non-Sindhi writers. Secret services started harassing and monitoring his activities, as was his travel banned to other Sindh cities. During those difficult days, almost all of his close friends distanced away, with an exception of late Rashid Bhatti and Muhammad Ibrahim Joyo, perhaps a few others as well, who respected Ayaz for his opinion and continued to visit him frequently. The crux of this undeserved treatment is the tortuous fact that despite his Pakistani-Sindhi loyalty and anxieties about the plight of indigenous cultures, Sindhi writers and friends were the first to assault and abondon him. Ayaz was helplesly isolated and felt lonely among millions of Sindhis he adored. It must had been an emotional ordeal. Only Abdul Hamid Memon (Hamid Sindhi) and a few other like-minded writers, themselves impressed and inspired by his poetry, had the moral courage to value Ayaz and printed his poetry/other works in monthly ROOHA REHAAN (Hamid edited this magazine from Hyderabad Sindh), irrespective of the official threats, restrictions and possible consequences. This very little support refreshed his morality and Ayaz cried out:

"Na Tarr te Tamaachi na Gandree-a guzaaraa,
Assarraa assaaraa keenjhar ja kinaaraa,
Ancjaa rinna manjhaan rarr ache thee ache thee,
Mataan ee-an samjheen muwaa mora saaraa."
(TRANSLATION: Neither Tamachi [the protector] is available on pier, nor his fisherwoman wife could survive without him. Keenjhar lake beaches may appear deserted. Nonetheless, roars still come aloud from desert. Never ever think that all peacocks are dead).

With a medieval folk Sindhi analogy about King Jam Tamaachi (Actually appointed as a Sardaar under Dehli rulers; Sindhi historians call him as king) whose marriage to fisherwoman Noori led to protection of the previously violated rights of the fishing community on Keenjhar Lake and who felt helpless without King's leadership and support, Ayaz explained to both Sindhis and their oppressors that Sindhis may appear destitute without a legitimate and representative leadership, patriot Sindhis still voice their opinion. This poem remarkably impacted Sindh society in sixties, and will continue to echo as a classic example of patriotic Sindhi poetry in Sindhi psych and memory for centuries. The then Pakistani Establishment, accustomed to to neglecting Sindhi concerns was surprised, perhaps even shocked at the moral courage of this lone native Sindhi poet and the fiery impact his poetry had all over the society.

Soon afterwards, many Sindhi middle class intellectuals and professionals (Emerging ones) incluhding some earlier critics started rallying around Ayaz who by then had excelled to the status of a contemporary Hero through his poetry. Many considered him a reincarnation of Shah Abdul Latif Bhitai, national Sindhi poet-saint famous for resisting similar societal inequalities in the 18th century. Ayaz idealized Latif and poetically communicated with the great Soul on issues of national importance. Aware of the impact his poetry had on his people, Ayaz screamed, Hamid and friends echoed through ROOHA REHAAN:

"Toon Chau na kuchhaan, toon chau na luchhaan
par to kkhan hikree gh(h)allh puchhaan,
Kanh kanh kkhe khamosh kanden Aelaana hazaaren maann na rughh(h)o."
(TRANSLATION: Ask me to not to speak or lament, but answer me Oh you; how many can you silent; thousands are announcing themselves (denouncing you) now publicly. I am not the only one").

Sindhi culture and national sentiment fulcrumed under Ayaz. Life went on as usual but the 1960s appeared relatively difficult for the poet and his family. Amid the India-Pakistan wars of 1962 and 1965, when the Pakistan government was busy invoking the Pakistani national sentiment to organize public support for war, idealist Ayaz denounced war as an instrument of national policy in humanist spirit, as well as for his personal distaste against population dislocations, socioeconomic and other cultural disorders and related miseries wars always bring. The anti-war poem very much reflected the personal social psychology of Ayaz conditioned by the social upheavals he experienced in early life. Broadly speaking, the collective historical memory and psychology of all Sindhis conceived by the buffer status of the entire Sindhu Valley (Indus Basin) also reflect similar trends. Ayaz conceptualized his conscience in one of his most famous anti-war poems:

"Hee Sangraam and hoo Narain Shyaam,
Hina ja munh ja bola bi saggiaa,
Hina ja munh ja ranga ratola bi saggiaa,
Hina te keen-ann bandooqa kkhannaan maann
Hina kkhe goli keen-ann hannaan maann."
(TRANSLATION: "Here Sangram and there is Narain Shiam, we speak same language, share same color, blood and culture; how could I pose my gun against them and how could I shoot them").

Visualizing two childhood friends, born in Sindh but migrated to India after Partition, Ayaz expressed his individual humane concern from an historical and cultural context, and he addressed both Indian and Pakistani governments that wars are never justified especially among cultural brothers. In other words, wars may result from the official misperceptions between the representatives of governments, cultural ties among people across borders are historically woven and must not be fragmented for some short-term oriented motivational attribution of some bureaucratic elite.

In International Relations, this poem would have very well been considered as an idealistic anti-war expression, particularly by peace activists, but the then Establishment treated it anti-Pakistani. Ayaz was arrested and imprisoned overnight. The physical imprisonment doubled the distress of poet and his family, who were now openly subjected to implicit and explicit harassment. Although many Pakistanis particularly Sindhi intelligentsia sympathized with Ayaz, this entire experience became a psychological nightmare for Ayaz, his wife and especially their young children, who were touted against by schoolmates about the personal humanistic philosophy of their father. Many of his clients left and attorney Ayaz was treated as an outcast by many colleagues in the Bar councils. Only his family, poetry, Rashid Bhatti and ROOHA REHAAN accompanied him. Ayaz may have described such anxieties in his work, nevertheless, this writer believes that his immediate family would do justice to the late poet by narrating their collective experiences of pain and suffering in detail. I mention this because there are lessons to be learned from the lifetime for which Ayaz paid a very high price. These hardships however, strengthened, matured and bloomed the perspective and wisdom of Ayaz, enabling him to balance between his humanness and comtemporary sociopolitical realities, an arduous task in itself. Upon release from jail at the end of war, Ayaz published another long poem, this time directly addressing President General Muhammad Ayub Khan. Without an access to his written material in print form, momentarily I could recall only two lines from this poem. Ayaz said:

"Moonn khhe toon chhaa khareed kanden O Aamira,
Munh jo mulhh daee chha saghhandenn toon".
(TRANSLATION: "How could you buy me Oh dictator; you cannot even afford to pay my price").

Ayaz explained that cherished principles can never be bought and advised all Pakistanis particularly Sindhis to continue struggling against the dictatorship and the unfair One Unit Scheme that non-consensuously united all of the then West Pakistani provinces and which was forcibly implemented and preserved under the leadership of President General Muhammad Ayub Khan. He poeticized:

"Toon hoon-ann bi marande kachhe menn,
Uth nahar waangur chhaala ddaee,
Toon aa-u pahaarri-a paachhe menn,
Har goly-a kkhe kaa boli aaa,
Toon golyoon yaar hallaae ddisu, etc."
(TRANSLATION: You are going to die in your little town anyway, so come on, jump like Nahar to the other side of the hill (Sindhi intellectuals have yet to decide what the word "Nahar" means, probably some brave human or non-human entity). Because every bullet has a language; you should try shooting as well (if nothing else has worked), etc.").

Ayaz advised the socioeconomically deprived Sindhis, demoralized under the oppressive One Unite Scheme whose cries for fairness and justice were not being heard by the then Establishment, not to waste their lives idle in hometown, but learn to take risks, even if they have to die with bullets while fighting to reclaim their legitimate rights; as every rifle and every bullet has its own final language.

(3) THE REALIST PHASE: The then Pakistani Establishment treated Ayaz as a rebel but the young, romantic and energetic ones honored him as a Hero. Physical imprisonment and isolation seem to have helped Ayaz realize that despite the fact that people cherished his utopias by hearts and minds, collective community behavior can be unpredictable under any historical circumstances. The poetry of this phase depicts a trend alteration of a realist kind, as his utpoias now seem to render alternate dimensions, refelecting inductions and deductions mostly due to the impact operating political environment had on Sindhi society. The transitional nature of sociopolitical culture had also affected the political psychology and perceptions of the historically deprived and suppressed Sindhi people, whose morality was recharged with the disolution of the One-Unit Scheme during the late sixties under the transitory presidentship of Agha General Muhammad Yahya Khan. The historic words of President F.D. Roosevelt that "Liberty without order and order without liberty is destructive" apparently explain the Pakistani/Sindhi behavior and situation those days. However, Ayaz never lost his faith and continued to maintain high hopes in the capability of his people. He was imprisoned again in 1970 for speaking conscience about the then East Pakistan crisis (Bangla Desh civil-war) and released afterwards when late Shaheed Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto and his Pakistan Peoples Party were called in to reign the residuary Pakistan.

The most important realistic and testing experience of Ayaz began with his acceptance of the vice chancellorship of the University of Sindh during the late 1975. Enormous politicization and geopolitical shake-up that Pakistan weathered had turned this country's educational institutions into hubs of political interest group rivalries as places of conspiracies, crime and corruption. The educational standards had deteriorated drastically. A majority of the restless young students were not in a mood to listen to any advice or oblige to any normal university administrator about the restoration of educational order. Only some charismatic personality, popularly respected by all rivaling student groups had a slight but possible chance to rectify the emotionally and politically charged academic atmosphere in educational institutions. Under these circumstances, the late Prime Minister Bhutto turned to Shaikh Ayaz for assistance and Ayaz graciously agreed to manage Sindh University, hoping that his personal popularity and stature might help reverse the prevalent negative academic trends.

Friends praised and foes criticized Ayaz for accepting this position. Nevertheless, this writer believes that acceptance of university chancellorship was perhaps among the very few best decisions Ayaz ever made in his life. I mention this for both factual and tactical experimental learning reasons. The overall experience offered Ayaz the opportunity to actualize and differentiate between the perceived and real management practice processes and related complexities from this position of power and I believe that he learned from it. Moreover, although the goal to de-politicize the university institution never materialized during his administration (And lifetime, Sindhis are still paying a high price for the politicization of their educational instututions), vice chancellorship enabled Ayaz to pierce through the actual Sindhi academic and behavioral psyche at that time.

The grim law and order situation eventually led Ayaz toward certain undesirable corrective decisions to deter the increasingly intolerant rivaling student and faculty group behavior. The same groups of students who venerated and collectively welcomed Ayaz in the university only a few months before, opposed him strongly. The best intentions of Ayaz were chastised by the very Sindhi nationalist groups who thrived through his poetry and results of the personal anguish endured by the poet in that regard. Without understanding the equation and nature of the politics of civil-military relations in Pakistan, especially Sindhis without an effective representation in the Armed Forces and the limitations it imposed, both Bhutto and Ayaz were labeled as agents of the then Pakistani Establishment by the university students. The military coup d'etat by late General Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq in 1977 against the popularly elected government of prime minister Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto and the post-coup political environment magnified the politicization processses in educational institutions, dashing away the possibility for a reasonable dialogue with students. Additionally, the intra-university leg-pulling between the academic and administrative staff, particularly demands of some "short-term oriented" staff members exclusively interested in undeserved short-term personal benefits became detrimental. The University of Sindh in which Ayaz held significant expectations appeared to be a major disappointment for the great poet as its administrator.

I believe that Ayaz matured further from this experience. Without dwindling his love for the land and its people, Ayaz appears to have left Sindh University with a broken heart. New realism however, seems to have convinced Ayaz that history cannot provide answers to all questions at the same time. He was left as a hurt and helpless distant spectator of the then educational and cultural debility of the university and society. With failing health, he simply retired to a private life in Karachi (The "Kunwaar" [bride] city of Sindh as he called it) but continued communicating through his poetic wisdom until death freed his soul from the emotional distress, which despite all of his goodwill, the great poet emblemmed almost throughout his lifetime. His poetry since the 1980s contemplates aesthetics, sufism, patriotism, personal lifetime achievements, as well as disappointments which Ayaz philosophized in his unique interdisciplinary style.

Ayaz seems resolved accepting the fact that great poets can relate their shared beliefs only to a few generations in their liftime. In retirement, he seems to have realized that the ethnonational sentiment and revitalization of Sindhi identity that his poetry inspired for good constructive reasons, gradually was being diverted toward the short-term oriented destructive directions to benefit only but a few selected Sindhi elite. Also, he seems to have realized that without an effective educational foundation and strength, all Pakistanis particularly Sindhis would never be ready to materialize the utopias of the greatness he envisaged. His famous song "Bhhoon-i na aaee bhhaan-i, Allaa maann uddree weendo saan-i (TRANSLATION: Those environs do not match my expectations, Oh God I shall fly away [leave]") among many others, clearly depicts an expectations and achievement conflict the great poet experienced both psychologically within himself and by the suffocating surroundings of the sociopolitical and cultural environment he was left to observe in isolation.

Some of his work completed prior to death undoubtedly indicates that Ayaz never recovered from his heart-breaking experience of Sindh University. His achievement to have successfully revitalized Sindhi national sentiment and disappointment over failing to restore the educational order in Sindh University offered an unsatisfactory no-win situation, unlike the least expected gains of the zero-sum game.

Did Sindhis fail him? This is a question, both the newer and older generations of Sindhis (Emphasis: Old and New both Sindhi and Urdu speakers) must answer.

Secret service agency personnel occasionally agonized and at least once tormented his library during retirement, as his personal socialization became selected only with a few known friends and family members. Nevertheless, lifetime personal friends will always remember the sincerity, companionship, and emotional and moral support Ayaz always provided whenever needed. Moreover, the "short-cut oriented" persons, who frequented him during the vice chancellorship days rarely visited Ayaz in retirement. Although by newspaper reports, it appears that many from such opportunist groups showed up in his funeral and the forty-day memorial celebrations. Perhaps, it was for the sense of guilt, if any, or probably for the perceived photo/publicity opportunities.

The story about the burial of Ayaz is also heart-breaking and still unresolved. Reportedly, Ayaz made known in his lifetime the wish to be burried next to a rock (a site he liked) around the Clifton waters nearby the residential areas of the Defense Housing Society, Karachi. However, after the great soul departed, some close friends for whatever their own unexplained reasons reportedly convinced his immediate family to burry Ayaz in Bhit Shah nearby the surroundings of the Mosoleum of Shah Abdul Latif Bhitai against late poet's personal wish. Bhit Shah is indeed an excellent and prestigious choice for burial as millions of visitors during the annual celebrations of Shah Bhitai (Melaas) would be equally greeting the grave of Ayaz as well. However, the fact is that Ayaz was burried against his own will. This writer believes that despite the good but somewhat disappointing intentions of well-wishers, the personal wishes of Ayaz should have been respected. No dead can insist upon implementation of personal wishes. It is very unfortunate that the last wish of Ayaz was not allowed to materialize and was consumed away by the wishes of others. It poses ethical questions. Perhaps, this is the only pleasure departing souls carry with them while transiting from this material to the eternal spiritual world. If the humane conscience still prevails, the body of Shaikh Ayaz should be respectfully relocated/reburried exactly at the place the great poet personally desired for and willed (Although unwritten) in his lifetime. Imagination that -how restless a soul may be after death- can be an apalling one. Should Ayaz friends and family fail to realize the importance of this need despite the semanticness of idea, then by Sindhi psychology, one may conclude that Fate's writing cannot be erased and Fate ordained Ayaz be deprived of his last wish. It is unfortunate that it was suggested by the trusted friends of the poet.

CONCLUSION: In December 1996, during a semi-informal meeting, celebrated Pakistani poet professor Ahmed Faraz asked this writer to opine about Ayaz and his recent poetry. I simply replied that "the latest poetry of Ayaz demonstrated a high level of maturity and realism gained from his lifetime experience. It is his age that now speaks". Perhaps, after Tagore, at least this writer has not known any other indigeneous mass poet on the Indo-Pakistani subcontinent who's poetry has actually revitalized the ethnocultural identity, as the poetry of Ayaz did. In my opinion, by this very fact, Ayaz deserved a Nobel Peace prize. Unfortunately, most Pakistanis especially Sindhis seem to lack such an appropriate influential networks to initiate such ideas. However, deep down inside heart, we scholars realize that in many cases such honors are awarded for political reasons.

Many Pakistanis criticized and labeled Ayaz as a hard-core Sindhi nationalist, and many hard-core Sindhi nationalists castigated him for appointing a relatively large number of non-Sindhi professional staff in Sindh University during his tenure. What a contrasting paradox! As a social scientist, I must argue that nothing is wrong with being a nationalist and/or a patriot, only if the associated privileges are not abused with anti-state sentiments. Logically speaking, Ayaz did not invoke Sindhi nationalism. He simply depicted his peoples' deprivation and sorrows in poetry and by that very act reminded the Establishment not to invoke national sentiments by molesting the provincial autonomy of other provinces, which together with Sindhis was the case with all provinces. His patriotism and humanness is demonstrated by the fact that without ever advocating anti-Pakistan slogans (Like many others), Ayaz restored the sense of cultural geography and history among the people of Pakistan and stressed upon the necessity to respect the historical political legitimacy of all indigenous Pakistani regional cultures, including Sindhis. Only ignoramuses would interpret regional nationalism (Not sub-nationalism; nationalist sentiments revitalize the need for sociopolitical stratification, while subnationalism advocates the destabilization of state structure) as anti-Pakistani and cite the poem of Ayaz: "Sindhu Desa ji Dharti tote panhn jo seesu namaayaan, mitee maathe laayaan." (TRANSLATION: "Oh the land of Sindh Country, I bow down my head before thee and touch your dust to forhead [in respect]") as a representative example of hard-core Sindhi nationalism. I must argue that those familiar with his work, are well aware that neither Ayaz, nor any other known Sindhi nationalist or even sub-nationalist has ever attempted to define the boundaries of Sindh country. Defining the boundaries of Sindh country from Karachi to Jacobabad districts (present provincial boundaries), which from an historic sense are administrative not cultural, would be an insult to all inhabitants of the Indus or Sindhu Basin. I am not an irridentist, but all histories of the Indus Basin written by scholars of diverse backgrounds, i.e., Hindus, Muslims and Westerners alike, define the entire Indus Basin and its surroundings as Sindhu Desa or Sindh Country, which more or less in its entirety happens to comprise the territory of modern Pakistan. Ayaz in fact, sychronically represented Pakistani patriotism in Sindhi nationalism (not to be confused with subnationalism). Ayaz visualized Sindh Country in its historic sense, which comprised both banks of the Indus or Sindhu river, meaning that from the surroundings of Karachi to the surroundings beyond Attock; northern territories, i.e., Gilgit, Skardou, etc. (Where Indus flows) was the land of historic Sindh Country, which in 20th century A.D. has new political identity as Pakistan. Inter and intra-ethnic rivalries over the resource management and voices for political stratification should never ever be exploited as anti-Pakistani. Similar differences could prevail among the various regions and cultural habitats of any country, including whatever is imagined by the hard-core nationalists of Sindh country. If the successive Pakistani governments have failed to reconstruct and/or rectify the centuries old sociocultural and linguistic fragmentation of various imperial rulers (both foreign and local), Shaikh Ayaz should not be blamed as a provincialist. His lifetime work and utopias actually remind the Pakistani government of its unrealized obligations. In the tradition of Shah Abdul Latif Bhitai and Rabindernath Tagore, Ayaz portrayed multilateral patriotism, not the popularly known subnationalism. Subnationalism is an instrument to cause societal fagmentation (A detailed analysis of ethnicity and nationalism in the Indus basin was presented an article of mine in Daily DAWN in two instalments; published December 5 and 12, 1995 respectively. Neither the Pakistani intellectuals nor successive Pakistani governments have commented on my theses or shown any interest in the rectification of historic fragmentation that Ayaz tried to reconstruct and which could only strengthen the ongoing political stratification processes, thus natonal cohesiveness).

Judging from the modern contours of human civilization related to women rights and considering his conservative upbringing in a tribalistic society, Ayaz may appear traditional. Nevertheless, like Shah Abdul Latif, who protested against the violation of women rights by poeticizing the traditional Indus folklore women characters, i.e, Marvee, Moomal, Noori, Sassui, Sunhnni and Soorath, etc. as role models (Depicting courage, courtsey, struggle, love, patience and patriotism), Ayaz followed the same path. Aesthetically secular Ayaz never kept secret his appreciation of beauty and human love traits, especially the praise of beautiful women. However, nothing can be traced to judge if he ever discriminated against women on gender and/or sex bases. It may appear that some "short-cut-oriented" women might have taken advantage of his generosity with "smile and kill" attitude, but that would be a rather different humane phenomena not the denominator for gender or sex based practices. In fact, Ayaz provided an equal opportunity to women of all cultures by appointing a number of non-Sindhi women on universities faculty without ever being concerned about criticism. It would have been an act of emotional and moral self-sucide for a humanist of his magnitude and stature to engage in discriminatory behavior. His faculty recruitment trends very well demonstrate preference for humanistic values, especially at a time when the ethnopolitical atmosphere in Sindh University was highly charged with political emotion. The love poetry of Ayaz, which deserves discussion in its own context, reflects such attitudes in-depth.

The birth of Ayaz was certainly a twentieth century mriacle in the Indus lands. Ayaz was destined to articulate the true feelings of common Sindhi folks and pick-up the social fragments of their society and reconstruct their ethnopolitical identity irrespective of the cultural, lingual and religious partialities. Although Ayaz criticized feudalism -besides other factors- as a predicament for Sindhi progress, under the specific material circumstances of transient Pakistani/Sindhi society, no other classes more than feudals (Wadderaas) actually benefitted from the reforms that were initiated from the national revitalization currents inspired by the poetry of Ayaz. Generally, members of feudal classes may not praise Ayaz publicly, most admire him privately.

The people and perceptions of his generation appear to be a shrinking into a minority in contemporary Sindhi society. Ayaz himself acknowledged such growing cognitive intellectual differences and gaps about his utopias both across and among the generations amid the newly emerging ethnocultural trends. It would be early to judge, historians would have to measure the impact his poetry has had across the different generation of society, particularly in Sindh. The existing educational deterioration in Pakistan, particularly in Sindh raises several questions how successfully the new Sindhi generations would be able to fill the vacuum created by the great poet's departure.

Finally, within the frameowrk of buffer zone, transitional cultures and spatial limitations, I would argue that Ayaz was much more successful in his mission under the imposed time/space constraints than he or others may have had ever imagined. Although his defined goal to depoliticize Sindh University was not achieved as desired because of some extraneous causal factors, his overall experience was successful in terms of understanding Sindhi society more realistically. Perhaps, his administration of Sindh University may have ensued certain unrealized constructive processes, which might have been washed away by the ingratitude shown after his tenure. Although the student behavior broke his heart, the experience equally invoked a sense of realism in him. Not much could be expected from a university located at the very heart of a periphery. His greatest success was to make Sindhis realize their own historical political legitimacy, and he made the then Pakistani Establishment to understand not to de-historicize and belittle the indigeneous cultures. That is a great achievement in itself. Moreover, the objective realities had taught Ayaz to fathom that his utopias may or may not materialize. Nevertheless, each new Sindhi generation will have to define these utopias together with their own and according to newly emerging generational realities. Success or failure of sociopolitical realization cannot be judged by a single incident. The processes of political socialization and stratification that the poetry of Ayaz actually initiated and started after 19701 may seem to have been derailed and somewhat slowed down, eventually they would have to mature and materialize, albeit under different infra-structural framework of time and space.

Briefly, the departure of Ayaz has deprived the subcontinent of a great intellectual asset, while Sindhis have lost their miraculous national poet they identified with and who identified himself with them. The new generations would certainly benefit from organizing the Ayaz memorial seminars -if held with a constructive zeal- helping themselves to realize that without a sound educational foundation and functional capability, neither the vacuum left by Ayaz could be filled, nor the utopias of regenerating Sindhi society could materialize.

For all Pakistanis, particularly Sindhis (I address both Old and New Sindhi folks [Sindhi and Urdu speaking natives]) irrespective of ethnolingual and religious background, it is time to realize the transitory nature of all cultures to reorder priorities constructively. This is what the lifetime experiences taught Ayaz as is demonstrated in his poetry. At his sixth death anniversary, I feel that Ayaz is being misunderstood by his own people, just as Shah Abdul Latif is being percepted by mere theosophics without reference to his own actual lifetime sociohistorical realities. Various newspaper articles published on his sixth anniversary suggest that Ayaz is being remembered by some emotionally oriented unrealist concerns, not for the principles the late great poet cherished as a conscientious human being. Moments are running fast. It is time that the dream of Ayaz about the revitalization of educational standards in Sindh University be realized and materialized and that he must be perceived according to his own still fresh lifetime realities.

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MY LITTLE WORLD, Dr. Aftab Kazi